Ohio State junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is foregoing his senior season of eligibility and will enter the 2013 NFL Draft, he announced Monday.
“I have decided, with the support of my family, to forego my senior season at Ohio State in order to enter the NFL Draft,” Hankins said in a statement. “I will always be grateful for the family I have gained here at Ohio State.
“I want to thank Coach Meyer, Coach Vrabel and strength coach Marotti for bringing the best out of me as a football player and person, and for their constant support. I also want to thank Coach Tressel and Coach Heacock for recruiting me and giving me an opportunity to be a part of this great school and great program.”
An All-Big Ten selection, Hankins finished the 2012 season with 55 total tackles, including four tackles for loss and one sack. He had a career-high 10 tackles twice, against California and UAB.
Over his three-year career, Hankins had 138 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and five sacks. He appeared in 38 games and started 25.
“My three years at The Ohio State University have provided amazing experiences for me, and they are years I will never forget or take for granted,” Hankins said. “My plans are to return to finish my degree and to continue to be a part of this brotherhood of Buckeyes. I am so appreciative for the support I have received from my teammates, the coaching staff and administrators at Ohio State, and of course, my family.”
Hankins, a native of Dearborn Heights, Mich., played in all 13 games his freshman season of 2010 and was named Ohio State’s defensive freshman of the year.
His sophomore year was a breakout season. Hankins tallied 67 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss. He earned the Jack Stephenson Award, which goes to Ohio State’s outstanding defensive lineman.
“I have enjoyed coaching and getting to know Johnathan Hankins over the past year,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “His hard work on and off the field has given him an opportunity to move on to the next level. The coaching staff and I wish him all the best.”
In April, Hankins is all but assured of adding to Ohio State’s list of 406 drafted players. Draft projections have Hankins slotted as high as the top five with many assuring that he’ll be a top-15 pick.
Thaddeus Gibson, following the 2009 season, was the last Buckeye to forego his senior season and opt for the NFL. He was drafted in the fourth round by Pittsburgh in the 2010 NFL Draft.
In his previous 10 seasons as head coach, Meyer has had 35 players drafted - five at Utah and 30 at Florida. That list includes 2005 No. 1 overall selection Alex Smith. Of Meyer's 30 Florida players chosen, eight were selected in the first round.